'The Business End': Perspectives on mental distress in the context of neoliberal restructuring of community mental health services

Moth, Richard Robert (2015). 'The Business End': Perspectives on mental distress in the context of neoliberal restructuring of community mental health services. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Contemporary neoliberal reconfigurations of statutory mental health services involve significant organisational
changes. Based on findings from twelve months fieldwork within a community mental health team, the thesis
examines the effects of this new service landscape on the way conceptualisations of mental distress are utilised
and articulated.

The thesis combines critical realist epistemology and reflexive ethnographic method to produce a contextually situated understanding of the field capturing the dynamic relationships between concepts, agents and the context of action. This draws on and extends Rhodes’ ‘pentimento’ (1993) as a conceptual framework for understanding mental health practice. It argues the mental health team is a ‘differentially sedimented structural institution’ in which practitioners and service users navigate a field of contradictions defined by four strata: the custodial system of the asylum; the biomedical treatment system of the hospital; community care within the Keynesian welfare state; and neoliberal welfare reconfigurations. These are conceptualised as ideological positions that coexist within practitioners as alternative modes of thinking and operate in a relationship of mutual tension. Practice should be understood as a process shaped by mechanisms at different levels of scale from micro to macro, and involving movement between these overlapping and co-existing strata of historically sedimented meaning.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Social Policy
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/5274


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